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Nathan Newman on April 28, 2006 - 12:10pm
While Chicago may surpass it if plans work out, the 1.5 million citizens of Suffolk County could soon have the largest free government-sponsored wi-fi Internet system in the country:
"People could connect to the Internet anytime, any place," said Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who proposed the plan. A private company selected by the county would build the system at no cost to taxpayers and finance it by selling Internet advertising or by charging a fee for connections with a faster speed. Mr. Levy has appointed a 15-member committee to draft the details of the plan. There is strong support for the idea in the county legislature.There are even discussions about beaming signals off-shore so that recreational boaters could surf the Internet while surfing the waves. There is welling up of innovation by local governments around municipal wi-fi proposals; unfortunately, some states are shutting down these efforts, bad policy pushed by the big telecom companies. But the more large communities like Suffolk move forward, the harder it will be for legislators to justify shutting down such initiatives in their own states.